The people I’ve kept close for years, they aren’t just friends. They aren’t just family. Not simply people in my life, or people I know transiently. The ones I’ve kept close to me are my strongholds. They’re my protection. My encouragement. My confidence. My buffer between me and my fears in the world around me. My comfort. And that’s exactly what I give back. Because I know what they mean to me.
I don’t feel entitled to them. I know I’ve earned them. And I am grateful for that comfort. There are trials. We mend or we don’t. But, I keep these special people close to me. Even if I hang on longer than I should. Just because someone chooses to exit my life, doesn’t remove them from it. Not for me.
The act of communication has never been difficult for me. I have no problem expressing my needs. No problems expressing how I feel. No problem feeling. No problems asking how someone else is feeling…or, the real kicker, actually caring when they share their feelings with me. The steps to connection; the act, aren’t difficult for me. But the logistics of it are.
With those close relationships I have and have had, we’ve all had to be in the right place at the right time. The right conditions. The right needs. The right willingness. Usually in a professional or educational environment where I’m comfortable, and we don’t have a choice but to learn to make it work together. These things don’t happen randomly for me. They are a lot of effort. But when the conditions were right, they stuck. And they do.
I’ve long been accused of being in my own world. Or acting like it. Because I am. I have the luxury of tuning out when I want to. Or turning away when I’m uncomfortable. Tuning back in when I’m able. I often feel like it’s easier to stay to myself than try to form a new bond. Even though I thrive on that connection. How would that new person react to me only getting half of what they intend, if my attention isn’t spot on. How will they deal with me not getting anything. Me asking again? Maybe still not getting it. How would it look if I had to explain my conditions of having a successful face to face conversation. Would they feel it wasn’t worth the ‘trouble’. Probably. Historically, yes. When it’s good, it’s amazing. And when it’s bad, it’s a joke. I don’t feel guilty about not subjecting either person to that. Least of all, myself.
Because of the lapses, the voids, and the misunderstandings, I’ve been called selfish, self involved, dismissive, disinterested, shallow, distant, snide, disingenuous, arrogant and egotistical. Maybe immature or childish for joking my way around something I didn’t catch. It’s exhausting. And it’s fucking awkward. Especially when I can say without hesitation that I am none of those things. Who wouldn’t avoid that if they could. If there were any other way to skirt it…or hold it off. Who wouldn’t choose to.
The irony is that every day, I look forward to meeting new people. But it isn’t every day that I have the energy or confidence for it. I like talking. I love connecting. At any level I need it. But it’s difficult. And it’s chancy. So, I’ve learned that I need to be even more pleasant than the next person. More pliable. Friendlier. I’ve learned that I need to be more respectful than the next man. Even more caring. Funnier. More open. Even if it is chancy.
Imagine having a distinct vision of your thoughts, your feelings. Being able to voice them clearly, confidently. With conviction. Feeling that excitement. And desperately needing to be fed back the same by someone you care for. But hearing them being a fucking crap shoot. It’s degrading when it fails. It’s unsatisfying, and sometimes best left without the venture. If only there were another way to ‘hear’ their words to you. Another way to see and know how they were feeling. It might feel a lot like heaven to finally have that freedom. Might feel like home. If only.
My relationships are an unending effort. Day to day inside something solid isn’t difficult for me. It’s rewarding. It’s lovely and it’s seamless. It lasts. But making that true connection at the start, before you’re strong together. Forming that deeper understanding that I need, before everything has crystallized…Those are Make or Break moments for me. I look for them. I wait for them. But they never stop being chancy.
It isn’t often that I let someone into that world. When I do, it’s with full intention, willingness and awareness. It isn’t often that I let myself be available to that. When I do, it’s because I feel the reward is greater than the risk for both of us. It isn’t often that I am willing to subject someone to being let down by me. When I do, I will try my damndest for that not to be the case. It isn’t often that I take steps towards an awkward situation or failure at my own volition. But when I do decide to, it’s with a full heart, hope and patience.
Despite what it may seem to those who don’t know me well, me prying this circle open is painful. And it’s terrifying. It isn’t a joke. It’s a risk of embarrassment. It’s a lot of work. But when it does come together, it’s killer. That’s something else I can say without any hesitation. Confidently. That’s what I’m waiting for. Someone to stay past the initial awkwardness. Even though they’re just as scared as me.
Love and faith are absolutely not a joke. Not under these circumstances. Not to me. I let them lead me because I have to. Because I’ve learned to. Even if it is chancy.